Roberta Fonseca & Ayanna
Roberto Fonseca, the jazz pianist from Cuba and his motley-crew of musicians succeeded in stunning the audience of Mancunians who filled the Royal Northern College of Music last month. The evening was coloured with musical variety from poignant cello solos from support act Ayanna, described as the, ‘pioneer of Black folk music’, to frenzied African-influenced jazz, which had the seated audience nodding their heads and tapping their feet throughout the night.
This is not to forget the hypnotised ambience that Ayanna created with her rich voice and emotional lyrics under the dramatic spotlight, an atmosphere that was quickly transformed as the lights brightened and Fonseca strolled casually onto the stage, in his baggy t-shirt and pork pie hat; the epitome of jazz chic.
What followed felt like a mix between watching a set of genius musicians and a group of giddy teenagers having a jam session, such was the improvised impression of the performance. It was an evening of variety, with drum and clarinet solos and powerful background vocals which were carried by the frenzied piano riffs, and it was an experience in itself to witness the impressive sight of Fonseca’s fingers blurring over the piano keys.
The casual mood felt particularly bizarre when one or two of the band would stroll off, though later return, whenever they became surplus to requirements and yet to look around it was not a gritty jazz bar but a fairly large concert hall that this was taking place. The night was certainly a unique, inspiring and highly recommendable experience.